IN A defensively-resolute performance, Derby County claimed their second win of the 2011/12 campaign at Vicarage Road following another rocket from the left boot of Steven Davies.
The Rams forward lashed home from 20 yards early in the second half to wrap up another three-point haul for Nigel Clough`s side as Watford failed to make their first-half onslaught pay dividends.
Hornet`s boss Sean Dyche named the same 11 that drew at Burnley on day one with new midfielder Prince Buaben replacing Piero Mingoia on the bench.
Derby brought in academy graduate Mark O`Brien at centre-back, replacing the injured Russell Anderson.
Watford were unable to get an early foothold in the game though the visitors offered little in the way of danger themselves. When Watford did finally get going it was in the air that they offered the greatest threat with winger Craig Forsyth amongst those to head narrowly wide.
Chris Iwelumo missed the opportunity to set Ross Jenkins free in the area with a heavy touch not long after whilst John Eustace and Marvin Sordell both fired into the palms of County ‘keeper, Frank Fielding.
Watford were denied a penalty in a half where every other decision from referee Darren Deadman had gone in their favour when a half-volley seemed to be blocked by the arm of an outstretched Ram`s player before a frantic goalmouth scramble failed to reward the ‘Orns as the half-time whistle blew.
Clough`s men quickly asserted themselves in the second period and went ahead when Davies collected a short pass before curling a deceptively powerful effort past Scott Loach from 20 yards to hand his side an ill-deserved lead.
From then on Derby reverted to type with mischievous forward Jamie Ward replaced by veteran left-back Gareth Roberts leaving the Rams with five at the back for much of the second half.
Watford did finally test Fielding when Sordell cracked a low effort towards the bottom corner whilst sub Gavin Massey nodded tamely at the former Blackburn stopper when unmarked at the far post.
Taylor saw another close-range header well blocked as the game petered out in disappointing fashion.
Derby County: Fielding; Brayford, O`Brien, Shackell (c), Kilbane; Croft, Bailey (Hendrick), Bryson, B.Davies, S.Davies (Robinson); Ward (Roberts).
Scott Loach – 6
Three errors on an otherwise quiet afternoon.
Lloyd Doyley – 6
Got forward well in the first-half but not tested defensively.
Adrian Mariappa – 6
Martin Taylor – 6
Carl Dickinson – 7
Tidy on the ball and not stretched at the back.
Mark Yeates – 7
Looked like the man who might create something but went long too often.
Ross Jenkins – 6
Tidy in possession without ever opening the Rams up.
John Eustace (c) – 7
Warrior-like leader as ever.
Craig Forsyth – 7
Got in good positions but failed to register.
Chris Iwelumo – 5
Sluggish and lazy. I’m sure he’ll get his double figures this season but it’s going to be a long, hard, slog. Reminiscent of a disappointing Deeney last term.
Marvin Sordell – 6
Couple of efforts, never really supported enough.
Troy Deeney – 7
Look bright, lithe and worked hard for his flick-on’s – sadly no-one was on the same wavelength.
Gavin Massey – 6
Missed one good chance.